tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC March 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
us. >> from all of us here, thanks for watching. tonight on "world news," the end of an era. elizabeth taylor, the last of the larger than life movie stars, and the woman who introduced american women to million dollar salaries, and a fever pitch of celebrity. barbara walters on how she lived her life and the way she changed everything. danger in the water. now babies are at risk from radiation in the tap water in japan. how could a mother reverse the effects? flying blind? one of the busiest skies in america, word that the air traffic controller may have been asleep in the tower? and, become a memory superstar, as we show you the latest on how to remember those names, lists, even, where did i put the keys?
good evening. as we begin tonight, the last of the legendary superstars has died. a superstar from an era when american movies were so powerful, the whole globe feasted on our celluloid dreams. and her face. elizabeth taylor died of heart failure today at 79. and every generation of americans knew her and followed her turbulent life. the girl with the violet eyes, the woman who broke the rules and the pay barriers for women in film. and in some ways, she created this frenzy of tabloid celebrity we all live amidst still today. but she was also a woman who was never tougher than when looking at her own choices. and here's abc's barbara walters. >> i've had a lot of tragedy in my life. i've had the lowest valleys, the highest highs.
i've had extreme happiness. i've had addictions. i'm like a living example of what people can go through and survive. >> reporter: have you ever thought of what you wanted on your tombstone? >> here lies elizabeth. she hated being called liz. but she lived. >> reporter: and boy did elizabeth taylor live. the last icon and first global superstar. she once told me that she couldn't remember a time when she wasn't famous. famous for her acting, illnesses, jewelry, friends, marriages and divorces. above all, for her stunning beauty. whether glamorously thin, or later unhappily heavy, time never dimmed her legendary violet eyes. >> she was born with a double set of lashes. and she was so rapturously beautiful little girl that you couldn't believe it and full of composure.
>> every day, i pray to god to give me horses. >> reporter: pushed by her mother, elizabeth was a movie star at 12 years old. >> how do you do? >> reporter: her career spanned 70 years and more than 50 films. >> i feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof. >> reporter: opposite the screen's greatest leading men. >> i love you. >> reporter: she was the first actress to earn a million dollars for a movie -- >> elizabeth taylor. >> reporter: and won two oscars, her last for this searing 1966 performance. >> maybe georgie boy didn't have the stuff. that maybe he didn't have it in him. >> reporter: but elizabeth the actress was often eclipsed by elizabeth the woman. married eight times to seven men, she married richard burton twice, the public and paparazzi consumed her every romance. she said there were two great loves in her life. director mike todd, who tragically died after one year of marriage, and richard burton, who in 1962, she met on the set of "cleopatra."
>> we both tried very hard to resist. it was just like, boom! >> reporter: and the rest, as they say is -- >> is history. >> reporter: both were married at the time. and their very public affair, condemned by the vatican, became an international scandal. unquestionably, their torrid relationship was one of the last century's great romances. richard burton was a great actor. >> and a hunk. >> reporter: throughout the '60s, the burtons were the most celebrated couple on the planet. superstars before there was such a word. lovers and friends all showered her with jewelry, a collection considered one of the finest in the world. >> don't get your fingerprints on it. >> reporter: look at that. in later years, taylor successfully transformed herself into a businesswoman, selling perfume. but her humanitarian work may be her greatest legacy. using her fame, she raised
millions for aids research, bravely standing by actor rock hudson, one of its first victims, when others shunned him. to the public, she may have been the last great movie star. but for those who knew her, she was also a loving mother and loyal friend. >> there have been so many lessons, life and death lessons, emotional lessons. i don't believe in regrets. and i have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow, no one does. >> and barbara walters is here now. we were saying earlier, we don't think of her as a pioneer, but her sheer fearlessness about her own choices in life changed things in this country. >> reporter: absolutely. by the way, she never wrote her autobiography. this, all the different clips that people will see, that's her autobiography. she was gutsy and salty and funny. and look at the things we've talked about. married eight times, she wanted to get married, she married them.
she wanted to divorce them, she divorced them. she championed aids when nobody did. she stood by people who were rejected. michael jackson adored her. rock hudson. everything she did was bigger, maybe not better, but pronounced and different. >> well, i know you're going to have a lot more on "nightline" tonight, and i'm going to be up watching, for sure, and thank you for being here. and as we saw with barbara, she said she had no regrets, and through the years, she continually gave advice with startling candor about her life, her terrible mistakes. and we gathered together some of what she passed on to anyone else who might sometimes struggle, too. >> i'm terrified of heights. and the sphinx was three stories high. and i was hanging onto that little boy so tight. and the thing was all of a sudden aloft.
and with each step, down, down, i'm going to throw up. down, i'm going to puke all over the kid. down. eight cameras out there, going to catch it. down. but i stood up, gripped the little boy's hand and walked up the stairs to cesar and winked. all in one take. beauty has nothing to do with the way you feel. the way you feel is what you are. i don't think physical beauty matters a damn. it's so fleeting. i'm shy. and walking into a room is a feat in itself. if you're shy, you go through those moments. if you're not, you don't know what i'm talking about.
if there's anybody out there that would like to take me for dinner, i'd love to go. i still need a nice, attractive, handsome, well, good-looking, sense of humor, compassion, enough money to pay for the dinner. i like popeye. >> reporter: you've talked about twice having a near-death experience. >> i don't fear it. because when i was on the other side, like, in the tunnel and was with mike, it was so beautiful. and warm. and i held onto him and he said, "you have to go back. you have things to do. and i'll be here." >> reporter: and some day, in
heaven, what do you want to make sure is there? >> mike and richard. and my mom and dad. >> lessons from an extraordinary life. and now, we turn to the cautionary tale tonight about radiation in tap water in tokyo. japanese mothers and fathers have now been told there is more than twice the legal limit of radioactive iodine for their children coming out of their faucets. and david wright has the news today. >> reporter: good evening, diane. that news about the tap water brings a new level of anxiety to this city of 30 million people. today, empty spots on grocery store shelves, where the bottled water used to be. replaced by signs like this. "water all sold out because of news concerning radiation." tokyo's tap water is tainted with a radioactive isotope known to cause thyroid cancer. iodine 131. tests at one of the main water
treatment plants showed the level of radioactive iodine at a count of 210. the acceptable limit for adults is 300. for infants? 100. "so, we advise babies in tokyo and surrounding areas not to drink the tap water," a water department official announced. government officials immediately started begging citizens not to hoard bottled water. but people, especially moerls with young children, are scared. "we can't see the radiation," she says. "and we won't know the affects on our children for years." today, we got our first glimpses up close at the efforts to prevent further contamination. these photos, taken by engineers working to fix the troubled reactors, give some sense why it's taking so long. these are the firefighters pouring on the water to keep the reactors cool, exposing themselves to potentially lethal radiation. just 16 miles away, what looks like a ghost town.
this is a town inside the exclusion zone. until two weeks ago, 71,000 people lived here. now, only a few hundred remain. refugees in their own homes, doing their best to hide from an invisible threat. their worries are now tokyo's worries. 140 miles away, tainted water in one of the world's largest cities. diane? >> david, so good to hear from you tonight from japan. and now, we turn to the u.s. fighting forces in libya. and the stronger signal sent today by president obama that america is ready to turn the lead over to other nations. but jake tapper is at the white house, tackling the question, does this really mean the united states troops will be out of harm's way? jake? >> reporter: good evening, diane. well, just earlier this evening, speaker of the house john boehner just sent a letter to president obama demanding to know when the u.s. is going to hand over command and control to that international coalition. the truth is, diane, the white house does not have an answer. they'd like to do it by the end
of this week, but it's unclear that will happen. president obama is quite eager to hand over command and control to the international coalition. >> the exit strategy will be executed this week, in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. we'll still be in a support role. >> reporter: that support role, supplying, jamming, intelligence, is not an exit strategy. it's still a huge commitment, though it would be significantly less than this initial phase in which the u.s. is carrying the overwhelming load. of the 161 tomahawks fired so far, 157 were american. four british. of the 175 sorties flown since the operation started, 113 were u.s. flights. 62 were by other countries. observers say you can discern some misgivings about how quickly this operation was launched in the remarks of the secretary of defense. >> this command and control business is complicated and we haven't done something like this kind of on the fly before.
>> reporter: in an exclusive interview with diane sawyer, the secretary of state insisted gadhafi himself is not a coalition target, but -- >> we're not telling others what they can or cannot do. >> reporter: gadhafi, after all, is still ordering attacks on rebel strongholds and projecting a bravado that has experts concerned about his grasp on reality. >> he sees himself as invulnerable and this is his finest hour. to say that these are glorious hours, when his entire regime is threatened, is quite remarkable, really. >> reporter: one u.s. official told abc news that intelligence reports indicate gadhafi is not sleeping. he's oscillating between crazy and sane. and is moving around. how this ends, of course, depends upon him. and diane, a u.s. official tells abc news that people around gadhafi are concerned about the direction of events and they are looking for a way out. the question, diane, is whether they're doing that for themselves or for gadhafi, made all the more puzzling because gadhafi's state of mind is so
difficult to discern. diane? >> could be fast-moving events this weekend. thank you, jake tapper, at the white house. and still ahead right here on "world news," did an air traffic controller fall asleep on the job at one of the nation's busiest airports? and, take a look at these five words. can you memorize them? because we're about to show you how to become a memory superstar. and, elizabeth taylor. the story behind what was considered the perfect kiss. [ sneezes ] allergies?
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delicious gourmet of gravy. and she agrees. with fancy fest gravy lovers, your cat can enjoy the delicious, satisfying taste of gourmet gravy every day. fancy feast, the best ingredient is love. imagine this. you're flying an airplane, heading into one of the busiest airports in america, and the air traffic controller cannot be roused. may actually be sound asleep. we are just learning that it may have happened not once but twice today at reagan national in washington.
and that's where jim sciutto reports tonight. >> reporter: for more than 20 harrowing minutes, the tower at reagan national airport had gone ominously quiet. at 12:10 a.m., american airlines flight 1900 from dallas could not reach the tower after being handed over from regional controllers. the pilot executed a go-round, following routine aviation procedure. failing to raise the tower on the second approach, the pilot treated the airport as if it were uncontrolled and landed. 15 minutes later, a united flight was also unable to contact anyone in the reagan tower. >> tower is apparently unmanned. called on the phone, and nobody's answering. so that aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport. >> that's interesting. >> it is. it's happened before, though. >> reporter: both flights landed safely. there was just one controller on duty at that hour. the ntsb now investigating if he was asleep, away from his desk or if there was a communication
issue with the tower. whatever they find, diane, they are going to be reviewing those staffing levels for this airport that is just two and a half miles from the white house. >> oh, jim, it must have been a nail-biting time for those pilots. thank you for reporting from washington tonight. and, coming up once again, we want to show you these five words. see if you can remember them because we're going to tell you the latest on turning your brain into a memory machine. ♪ trouble been doggin' my soul ♪ since the day i was born ♪ worry ♪ oh, worry, worry worry, worry ♪ [ announcer ] when it comes to things you care about, leave nothing to chance. travelers. take the scary out of life. constipated? phillips' caplets use magnesium,
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do you remember the five random words we showed you? if not, don't worry. because dan harris is about to bring the latest revelation about how we can all remember them like a champion. >> reporter: just a few years ago, science writer josh foer was like the rest of us. he forgot things like where he left his car keys, what he needed to buy at the grocery store and his girlfriend's phone number. but over the course of 12 months, he became the u.s. memory champ. >> we have a new national memory champion, josh foer. >> and not only did i win, i actually set a new u.s. record by memorizing a deck of playing cards in a minute and 40 seconds. >> reporter: he says anybody can do it. you just need to train yourself to memorize things visually. cutting edge neuroscience proves it. one study scanned the brains of london cab drivers, who have to remember how to navigate an entire city, and found they seem to be storing the information in the visual parts of their brain. >> when we were hunter-gatherers, remembering phone numbers was not that
important. >> reporter: foer agreed to teach me how to remember five random words by building something called a "memory palace." which is simple, and something anybody can do. it's a structure in your imagination where you place things that you want to remember. for my memory palace, i chose my childhood home. >> the first word's "microwave." >> reporter: okay. >> so, you would actually see an image of a microwave doing something really crazy outside the front door of your parents' place. >> reporter: okay. >> so, like, zapping, you know, maybe it's frying a cat or something. >> reporter: and that's the real trick here. scientists say, the more provocative the image, the easier it is to remember. another one of the words is "lively," for which i suggest the actress blake lively in my mom's living room. >> oh, that's really good. yes, okay. >> reporter: when it came time, i just walked through the memory palace and remembered all five words. >> perfect. you're, like, a memory champion. >> reporter: experts say you can use this technique to remember the things you need to buy at the store on your way home.
think of the butter in the living room or the soap on the stairs. or what about remembering people's names? a lot of us struggle with that. the trick is to use your visual skills and your wildest imagination. so, for example, this is my colleague michael corn. michael, turn around, thank you. for him, you would want to picture not just a field of corn, but a field of corn on fire. and what about where you left your keys? one scientist tells us the best tactic is to remember when you set them down to take a mental snap shot of the exact spot. >> put these on. >> reporter: josh foer took this whole thing very far, training daily with special goggles and ear muffs to block out distractions. >> this is a mental athlete ready to go into battle. >> reporter: but the rest of us can use this stuff right away. no special equipment needed. just our imaginations. dan harris, abc news, new york. >> so, i'm picturing my most indelible image of elizabeth taylor. what's yours? i'll show you mine in a moment.
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♪ so, here's to george stevens and "a place in the sun." we want you to know barbara walters will be back later tonight for a special edition of "nightline," remembering elizabeth taylor. but i showed you my movie clip. we live you with some choices, are these any of yours? good night. >> i want to be a famous rider. >> her stunning beauty and notorious intrigue. dazzled by the radiant beauty of elizabeth taylor. >> you're all alike, aren't you? play tough. >> i'm not like anyone. i'm me. do as you say? literally? as if i was something you had conquered? i feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof. >> then jump off the roof. jump off.
>> i want you not to go too far. >> i'm just beginning. every time you leave me for a minute, it's like good-bye. i like to believe it means you can't live without me. c tonight the rock slide that cutoff a mountain community. signs of progress reconnecting the neighborhood with civil saigs. >> stormy weather passing through the bay area, and heavy down pours, i'm show were you the most active weather is. >> we're live tonight with a report from inside of yosemite
park. what it's like to be strand there'd with no way out. >> and there is a young athlete was told he will never walk again. look where his attitude has taken him. >> good evening, weather is about to get worse again which is what they do not need. >> there is a huge rock slide cutoff dozens of people. >> and wayne freedman begins our storm coverage live from scotts valley tonight. >> there is a meeting ended in the fire department over my shoulder here between the county and the people who live in those 33 homes cutoff by that rock slide. there is some progress. we can report that tonight. but with rainfalling and with that rock slide still unstable there is another two words being used by the county tonight. a while. in the